Study abroad

There are so many benefits to adding an international element to your Waterloo degree!

  • Build your network and make new friends from around the world.
  • Step outside your comfort zone to become more independent and self-aware.
  • Set yourself apart in your job hunt by becoming more adaptable and developing the skills employers are looking for.
  • Earn credit towards your degree at Waterloo while exploring another country/region.
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Plan for exchange in advance

Students normally study abroad for their 3A or 3B terms. For students in Planning, it is recommended to go on exchange in the 4A term, due to the sequencing of their core course.

Students in a co-op program, may need to forfeit a work term to fit an exchange into their academic cycle. Work/study sequences can be viewed here.

Students should expect to take elective courses while on exchange as finding courses to meet core requirements while on exchange is difficult to do. However, with the right plan in place, you can go on an exchange and meet your degree requirements without extending your studies.

Suggested steps to begin planning for a term studying abroad on exchange:

(1) Speak with your academic advisor about re-sequencing your required courses, to allow for elective courses during your term abroad:

(2) Create a plan to take your required courses in another term.

(3) Review your plan with academic advisor to confirm that you will meet degree requirements.

Note: Elective courses in your area of study may be available to you at your host institution.

Contact

Faculty (International) Exchange and Undergraduate Operations Coordinator 
env.exchanges@uwaterloo.ca
 

Check out our recent info session slides: ENV International Opportunities Information Session (PDF)

When should you apply?

To access the exchange application, you will first need to attend an information session. The last day to complete the information session for the current application round is TBA.

Application deadlines for the 2024-2025 exchange cycle

To go on exchange during Application round Applications open
  • Fall 2024
  • Winter 2025
  • Spring 2025

First - Your best chance of getting your first choice

Now closed
 
  • Winter 2025
  • Spring 2025
Second - Only spots for Winter and Spring terms will be available February 1- February 29, 2024

Application dates for future exchange cycles 

For an exchange during Applications open
Fall 2025, Winter 2026, Spring 2026 October 2024
Fall 2026, Winter 2027, Spring 2027 October 2025
Fall 2027, Winter 2028, Spring 2028 October 2026
Fall 2028, Winter 2029, Spring 2029 October 2027

Eligibility criteria

  • Cumulative overall average of 70% or higher*
  • Be in good standing for your program*
  • Demonstrate capability of maintaining a full course load as determined by your academic plan or AccessAbility Services
  • Be proficient in the language of instruction at the host university (check that the school you are interested in going to offers courses taught in English, if that is the language you will need to study in)
  • Be in at least your 3A term at the time you go on exchange
    Most students go on exchange during their 3A or 3B term, although 4A works best for students in Planning. 

*Please note that you must maintain a minimum average of 70% and remain in good standing until the time you leave for your exchange.

If you are unsure about whether you meet the eligibility criteria, please contact the Faculty (International) Exchange & Undergraduate Operations Coordinator.

Costs

Tuition/Program fees

Exchanges

For international exchanges, you pay your normal tuition fees (for 2.5 units) to Waterloo. There is no extra tuition charged to participate in an exchange program. Please note that your tuition for an exchange term does not change if you take a lighter course load at your host school.

Summer programs

Summer programs through the University of Waterloo vary. For some summer programs, you pay the program fee directly to the host school and for others, you pay your tuition fees (for 1.5 units) to Waterloo. You can find this information, as well as the program cost, on the program's summary page in Waterloo Passport.

Other costs

You are responsible for any extra studying costs (student fees, books, lab fees, etc.), travel expenses, passport and visa arrangements, accommodations, food and all other living expenses, etc., including health care.

Costs of living abroad vary considerably, but is often not significantly higher than living in Canada. To make your exchange more affordable, consider schools located in smaller cities or towns, where housing tends to be much lower than in larger cities.

International experience awards (free money!)

The University of Waterloo offers a number of awards and bursaries in support of international studies. You can be considered for most of the international experience awardsby completing one application.

Some of our partner schools offer funding for exchange students. If there is funding available, you will find that information on the school/program's summary page in Waterloo Passport, beside "What financial support is available?".

Where can you go on exchange?

You can find the programs that are available to Environment students in Waterloo Passport. You do not have to log in to search for programs (and will only be able to log in after you attend an info session).

Note: If you need to take courses that transfer back at the 300- or 400-level during your exchange, it is recommended that you do not go on exchange to Singapore, as it can be very difficult to find and get into courses at that level, even if they are offered during the term you will be there. 

To search

  1. Click on the "Search Programs" tab at the top of the page
  2. Select "Exchange" as the type and check the box beside "Environment" to find the universities you can go to as an Environment student
  3. Click "Apply Search" to get your results
  4. Click on the name of a school, in the list of results, to see more information about that host school. Be sure to check the following information when looking at the school summary:
  • Term/semester dates - quite a few universities have term dates that are different from ours and may overlap two of our terms (e.g. terms in Australia typically run from February to June and July to November/December). Check individual universities for term/semester dates as these can vary even within countries/regions.
  • Language of instruction (found to the right of the map) - most of our partner universities offer courses taught in English but be sure to check this before applying.

You will find plenty of useful links in the school profile (the page you see after clicking on the name of the host school) that will take you to information on courses, housing, the school website and more.

Before you apply

  • Attend an information session. Upcoming dates, times and locations can be found on the Student Success Office Go Abroad website, under the "Application steps: Before match" tab. The sessions currently listed are for the 2023-2024 cycle. Check back in late August for an updated list of information sessions for the 2024-2025 exchange cycle.
  • Check your degree requirements in the academic calendar to figure out which courses you still need to graduate. 
  • Check that the host school you are interested in offers courses you would want to take (and would be open to you as an exchange student).
  • Have a plan for taking your core/required courses at Waterloo and leave electives for your exchange term. Plan on taking your required courses at Waterloo and leaving your electives to take during your exchange, as it can be difficult to find courses that will transfer back to Waterloo as the specific courses you may need. Plan early and talk to your academic advisor about how you might be able to take the required courses you would normally take during the term you'll be on exchange, during your other terms at Waterloo.
  • Discuss with your Academic Advisor and Co-op Advisor (if applicable) how an exchange will fit into your academic plan. Depending on the term dates of the school you are going to, you may have to make changes to the sequencing of your work and study terms. Talk to your academic advisor if you plan to forgo a co-op term for an exchange.
  • Check the term dates, duration and language of instruction of the host schools to ensure they would be a good option for you. You are expected to be at your host school for their term dates, not Waterloo's.

How to apply

See the Application Steps tabs on the Student Success Office's Go abroad page to find out more about the exchange process and how to apply.

What to do when you've been matched

You will receive an email from the Global Learning Team when you've been matched with a host school. You will only be matched with one school/program.If you choose to decline your match, please let the Global Learning Team know if you would still like to be considered for another match, otherwise you will automatically be removed from the exchange program. If you do not accept your match by the deadline given in your match email, your match will automatically be declined.

Course selection and transfer credits

Transfer credits

Most students are able to transfer a full course load of credits (2.5 units) back to Waterloo after completing an exchange term. The key is to look into courses early and have them assessed before you leave for your exchange so that you know which transfer credits you can expect to receive when you return to Waterloo.

You are welcome to take any course that your host university will allow you to enrol in, making this the perfect opportunity to take courses that can only be found at your host school. Just keep in mind that you cannot receive transfer credit for a course you have already received credit for at the University of Waterloo.

Transfer credit assessment process

Once you have been matched with a host school and have accepted your match we can start the process of getting courses assessed for transfer credits, although it is usually more beneficial to wait until you hear from your host school with next steps, as they will usually give you more information on the courses that would be open to you as an exchange student. When you choose to get courses assessed is completely up to you, and mainly depends on the credits you are hoping to get during your exchange. 

Arts courses 

Complete the Arts Transfer Credit Application Form for Non-Arts Outgoing Exchange Students form.

Science courses

Complete the Science Course Transfer Credit Application form for Non-Arts Outgoing Exchange Students form.

All other courses

Email the Faculty (International) Exchange & Undergraduate Operations Coordinator with the following information for each course. You can submit a maximum of 6 courses at a time:

1. Your name, program, and student number

2. An attached link or PDF to the course syllabus/outline

2. The following table filled out:

Assessed in (year) Exchange Country Host School Host Course Code Host Course Weight (Credits) Host Course Name Prioritized UW Transfer Credit 
             

Frequently Asked Questions

When can I start getting courses assessed?

You can start getting courses assessed for transfer credits once you are matched with a host school and have accepted your match. However, it is usually best to wait until you have access to the host school's application to have courses assessed, as you will likely have access to more information about the courses that would be open to you, as an exchange student, during the term you will be on exchange.  

The credits you need to find during your exchange term will be another factor in when you choose to get courses assessed. If you are looking for a specific credit, you may want to start the process earlier to ensure there are some options for getting that particular credit (although we can't guarantee that you will be able to enrol in a particular course, even if it is offered during the term you will be on exchange). If you only need to find electives, you may not want to have courses assessed until closer to the start of your exchange term, or once you find out which courses you've successfully been enrolled in.

Even if you only need to find electives, you should have courses assessed before the deadline to make changes to your course enrolment at your host school, just to make sure that they are not equivalent to a course you have already taken at Waterloo.

How do I find courses at my host school that I can take as an exchange student?

A link to courses at your host school, and information about the courses and areas of study that are restricted to exchange students, can usually be found on the program page in Waterloo Passport, beside "What courses can I take?".

If the link is broken or doesn't seem to have the information you're looking for, try searching on your host school's website. Be sure to look for information specifically for exchange students, as there could be courses that aren't open to exchange students or a special list of courses created just for exchange students. 

Do I have to take courses related to my program?

No, you are free to take any course your host school will let you take. As long as a course shows on your transcript with a credit weighting and a passing grade, and you haven't already taken the equivalent course at Waterloo (see Transfer credit assessment process, above), you will receive credit for it. 

You should talk to your academic advisor about the courses you still need to meet your degree requirements, so that you are aware of the credits you still need to graduate. This will help you as you look for courses.

If you are looking for a course above the 100-level, be sure to stay away from courses with the words "introduction to" as they will likely be assessed at the 100-level. If you are looking for a equivalent credit to a UWaterloo course, you can compare the the course outline from your host school with the UWaterloo course outline.  

It says that a full course load at my host school is 4 courses. Does that mean I can only earn 2.0 units for my exchange term?

No, as long as you take what is considered to be a full course load at your host school, we will make sure you receive 2.5 units of transfer credits, as long as you pass all your courses and have not already received the credit at Waterloo (for specific transfer credits, e.g. GEOG 101). 

Where can I find information on visas, housing, etc.?

Your host school will provide more information on all the things you will need to sort out for the term you will be there on exchange, likely when they send you information about applying directly to your host school. You can also find helpful links to some of that information on your host school's program page in Waterloo Passport.

More Environment student exchanges

Siddhartha (Environment and Business)
Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore

Vanessa (Geography and Environmental Management)
Queensland University of Technology, Australia